|ISSUE NO. 3616 

April 19 - 24, 2013


 Coastweek   Kenya

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Kenyans look at Rwanda genocide
to embrace conflict resolution

The 19th commemoration of Rwanda genocide presents an
opportunity for citizens in kenya to look inwards and
reconcile with their past in order to chart a new beginning

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Yvonne Kanyi, a 23 year student in a private university has faint memories of the genocide in Rwanda that captured global attention 19 years ago due to its horrific nature.

However, the history major recalls at dinner table stories of war zones in Africa and beyond as narrated by her diplomat father but the ethnic bloodletting in Rwanda left an indelible mark that has not been erased to date.

“Growing up under the shadow of widely travelled and well- informed parents, I was plunged into the world of current affairs in my formative years. By the age of five, I was well versed with events and episodes shaping the world,” Kanyi told Xinhua on Thursday.

She spoke on the sidelines of an event to observe the 19th anniversary of Rwanda genocide which took place in Nairobi.

Hundreds of Kenyan youth drawn from high schools, colleges and universities recited peace messages and showcased artistic works stressing unity, peace and brotherhood across the world.

Majority of the youth had a clear grasp of events in Rwanda 19 years ago and made a passionate appeal for authorities in government, civil society and international community to revitalize initiatives that advance peace, unity and harmony.

“The lessons of Rwanda are enough to provoke renewed sense of brotherhood in this region. Such events can recur in the absence of vigilance from both the citizenry and their rulers. That is why every country in the region must endeavor to foster communal harmony,” Kanyi said.

She is an active member of national youth organizations committed to promoting cohesion across Kenya’s ethnic, political and sectarian divide.

Kanyi noted that a generation of Kenyan youth is well versed with the history of genocide in Rwanda alongside sporadic conflicts in neighboring countries.

“Most of us were too young to have witnessed the horrors of genocide in Rwanda almost two decades ago but our parents, mentors and teachers have exposed us to the tragic past in that country. That is why a call for peace from youngsters is not entirely hollow but based on sound understanding of what the opposite mean to humanity,” Kanyi said.

The 19th commemoration of Rwanda genocide presents an opportunity for citizens in the central African country to look inwards and reconcile with their past in order to chart a new beginning.

“Commemoration activities are indeed needed and each year, all of us learn a thing or two about the genocide, how and why it was conducted, the consequences it left, and prevention mechanisms in place to cushion our nation from drifting back into a culture of hatred and division,” said the Rwandan High Commissioner, Yamina Karitanyi.

She reiterated that the genocide commemoration offer an opportunity for Rwandese people and the world to remember and honor the 800,000 lives that were lost in the three months orgy of bloodletting.

Karitanyi added that Rwanda has overcome its tragic past to become a vibrant and modern country that is the envy of the world.

“It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the events of 1994 never occur anywhere again. Just as Rwandans stand together to honor the lives of our loved ones, the world must stand together to fight racism, bigotry, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination,” Karitanyi said.

She added that this years‘ commemoration emphasized on the need to engage the youth in the fight against genocide ideology while strengthening their participation in fostering unity, reconciliation and creation of platforms for peace building.

Despite having never witnessed large scale civil strife in their home country, Kenyan youths fully understand the consequences of instability having watched events across borders.

“We are lucky at least Kenya has been a peaceful island in a sea of turmoil but this is no cause for apathy. Lessons from elsewhere should inform the need to nurture a culture of peace and civil harmony in Kenya,” said Abdi Hassan, a university student.

Hassan revealed to Xinhua that he has participated in many forums locally and abroad to press the case for youth participation in peace building.

“The youth are an asset in any given society and their talents, energy and creativity should be tapped to find long-term solution to contemporary challenges like civil strife, climate change and fight against poverty and ignorance,” said Hassan.


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